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Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University
University Archives & Manuscripts - K-State Women
L. Irene Putnam (1887-1967)

Laurel Irene Smith was born in Haverville, KS, in 1887. She attended Kansas Wesleyan Business College and worked as a secretary for a lawyer, Frank T. Burnham. From there she worked at the First National Bank in Beloit, then for Louis Rosenwald at the Hub Clothing company and the Putnam Investment Co. in Salina. A civil service examination resulted in the offer of a job in the office of the U.S. counsel to the Seminole Indians in Wewoka, OK. She then moved to Chicago and got a job as a secretary to a college professor and began preparing to enter medical school. She earned a Bachelor's degree from Western Reserve University and her medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL, in 1927, interning at Los Angeles General Hospital, 1927-1929. She married Henry J. Putnam, her former employer, in 1930. Henry J. Putnam died, Nov. 2, 1940. Irene Putnam was assigned to the Indian Service in Nevada during WWII and later headed the Yuma Indian Hospital. She was employed by the Public Health Service in Milwaukee until she retired in 1948. She established the Henry J. Putnam memorial scholarship at Kansas State University to honor her late husband in 1955. Putnam moved to Manhattan, KS, in 1957 and funded the Maitland E. Smith Scholarship House, in honor of her brother in 1958. In her honor, Southeast Hall was renamed Putnam Hall in 1961. She died on Aug. 4, 1967.

Source of information:

Vertical File. Putnam, L. Irene